Thoracic back pain occurs in the upper back, often between the shoulder blades. Thoracic back pain causes are usually minor in nature; typically, correcting posture can reverse this issue. A lot of stress on the body is contained in the shoulders, especially in a sedentary job that is spent sitting for hours on end. Over the years, a correlation has been found between thoracic back pain and sedentary desk jobs; now that many people work at computers all day, this type of back pain is becoming more common.
Back pain is usually associated with aging, but most degenerative back disorders are based in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical area (neck); they rarely occur in the thoracic spine. Getting up from a desk every hour to stretch and walk around can help to ease and prevent further back pain, but if this solution does not help, other treatments may be necessary.
The thoracic back consists of twelve vertebrae, named T1 through T12; these bones are located directly behind the chest and connect to the rib cage. Because all these bones are responsible for protecting vital organs, injuries must be treated immediately. Although thoracic back pain is not a common complaint because many people carry their back discomfort in their lower spines, this type of back pain should not be ignored, especially if a specific injury caused the pain. Elderly people with osteoporosis or low bone density can suffer fractures in this area, and even athletes who overexert themselves can fracture this area.
The thoracic back area is usually not as vulnerable to degenerative conditions as the lumbar and cervical areas. Typically, the thoracic back pain causes can be pinpointed, such as sitting, sleeping, or standing in an uncomfortable position for too long or placing strain on the back through strenuous exercise. Because this area of the spine is not as flexible as other parts of the back, it is not usually as susceptible to injury as the neck and lower back. Also, degenerative disk diseases are rare in the thoracic vertebrae; only about 1 percent of disk herniations, for example, occur in the thoracic spine.
When injury or trauma does occur in the thoracic spine, it sometimes does not set in until the day after the injury has occurred. Car wrecks are a common issue with thoracic back pain causes and whiplash, and many times if a person in a wreck feels well enough at the scene to walk away, they might decline to be seen at a hospital. Anyone who is involved in a car wreck should be checked at a hospital in case of trauma, as the effects might not fully set in for a day or two. The pain from other injuries, such as heavy lifting while moving, might also set in over a couple of days.
Any type of back pain that persists despite home remedies should be examined by a doctor. Although back injuries are not common in the thoracic spine due to its lack of mobility, pain in this area can signal something serious. Back pain can affect anyone, but for those who suffer from it constantly, there are many treatments, including anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and surgery, which is only used in extreme cases.